When first-grade teacher Katie Blomquist realized that most of the students at her low-income school couldn’t afford a bike, she set out to provide each child in the student body with their own.
Last week, after 7 months of planning and waiting, that dream came to fruition as she was able to provide the 650 students of Pepperhill Elementary School in North Charleston, South Carolina with new bikes, helmets, and locks.
“When those parachutes went up and the kids started screaming I could not have felt happier. Kids were hugging each other, jumping up and down, screaming! It was more than I imagined,” she told The Huffington Post.
Last September, Blomquist started a campaign on GoFundMe entitled “Every Kid Deserves A Bike!”
“I see directly the struggles and the difficult hands in life some children are dealt,” she wrote in her GoFundMe campaign. “Many do not have the chance to visit places outside their immediate community or have a variety of experiences over weekends and the summer; rather, many children solely play on their street with neighborhood kids or strictly watch television.”
”I soon began to envision how each student’s quality of life could improve if they had more freedom to ride around their neighborhoods,” she added.
Blomquist ultimately raised a little over $80,000. In addition to the bikes, helmets and locks, the money was also used to pay for the trucking company who brought the bikes to the school and stored them overnight. The bikes were originally intended to be a Christmas gift, but the money wasn’t raised in time and shipping was delayed. Instead, they were delivered just in time for spring.
“A bike represents so many things,” Blomquist told The Huffington Post. “It represents a sense of ownership, of freedom, exercise, transportation, but most importantly it represents the basic childhood right ― a right to joy.”
Inspired by the experience, Blomquist has created a GoFundMe for her new charity, which is called “Going Places,” and has the mission “to bring joy to deserving children from low income families by providing them with bikes, swim lessons, summer camp opportunities, and more.”